We all know the potential risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year, the news touches on a story of a family that has a problem inside the home with their heating system, and carbon monoxide poisoning costs them everything.
But carbon monoxide poisoning has long been thought of as an individual residence problem, with carbon monoxide detection systems a requirement for residential housing alone.
Unfortunately, carbon monoxide does not distinguish between an individual residence or a commercial location. If a building is constructed using a fuel burning HVAC system, it runs the risk of having a problem with carbon monoxide.
As a building owner, one of your primary responsibilities is to keep the building occupants safe. And new building codes and regulations are starting to implement the necessity of detecting carbon monoxide in a similar manner to residential code. Yet if you have a commercial HVAC unit that uses a fuel based system, there’s no better time than the present to make sure your building stays safe, and your building occupants understand the procedures to stay safe as well.
Develop Procedures For Carbon Monoxide Detection
In our homes, we have both smoke detection and carbon monoxide detection systems that alert us to potential problems. But the alert system will only work if the occupants understand the procedures to follow. Not only should they leave their residence and contact authorities the moment they hear an alert, they should also maintain the system with fresh batteries and new units as technology increases.
Home owners take on that responsibility when they purchase a home. But as a business owner, its imperative that you are as forthcoming about building procedures as a home owner would be with their family.
Develop procedures that alert every occupant to expectations and policies. Everyone should understand proper procedures for evacuating the premises if a problem is suspected. The fire department should be alerted immediately to begin taking action as quickly as possible. Fixing the problem should only be started once safety has been attained. While business losses may mount during “shut down” time periods, health and lives are at stake.
Take Action To Prevent Problems
The good news is there is an easy way to avoid potential problems with carbon monoxide: have furnaces, vents, and any other fuel burning appliance inspected by a qualified HVAC professional on a regular basis. Also, install detection systems to provide notification of problems in between regularly scheduled inspections.
The most common cause of a carbon monoxide leak is a failed or leaking heat exchanger. The heat exchanger’s job is to vent poisonous gases from the heat combustion process away from your ducts and out of the building. If the heat exchanger develops a problem, cracks, or has a hole in it, the furnace keeps working, but the results can be disastrous. The carbon monoxide continues to form; it mixes with the heat and fills the building rather than leaving the building as the system was designed.
Another common cause of a carbon monoxide leak is a blocked vent. Vents can be blocked from a variety of things: dust and buildup over years of use; insects, birds and other rodents looking for a way in; even debris making its way from the outside in. If any of these happen, your HVAC system will continue to work normally, with little indication of a problem until sensors warn you.
The best way to avoid potential problem is to receive maintenance and inspection on a regular basis. A certified HVAC professional will make sure your equipment is working in a safe manner, and that potential problems are corrected long before they become an issue.
When was your last inspection?